Think your kid's college bill is pricey? Think again. For the second year in a row, Sarah Lawrence College has the dubious distinction of being the nation's most expensive place to attend college -- a whopping $54,410 for the current 2009-10 school year, including tuition, plus room and board, according to data compiled by CampusGrotto.com.

Of course, for that price, students get the distinction of attending one of the finest colleges in the country. Most of the colleges in the 100 most expensive colleges ranking are private liberal-arts universities in the Northeast.

CampusGrotto notes that while the current school year saw one of the smallest increases in costs in decades, expenses still rose 4.3%. By contrast, the annual rate of inflation in the United States fell 1.3% in September. Many of the colleges on the list now cost around $50,000 a year to attend.

While Sarah Lawrence, in Yonkers, N.Y., offers leafy suburban charm, those desiring a more urban experience can shave nearly 5 percent from their education bill by attending the No. 2 school on the list, New York University in Manhattan, which costs $51,991. In third place was George Washington University (Washington), $51,730; followed by Bates College (Lewiston, Maine), $51,300; and at No. 5, Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), $51,196.

When looking at tuition only, Sarah Lawrence still ranks among the top five most costly schools with total instruction-only costs of $41,040 for the 2009-10 school year, slightly below leading Middlebury College (Vermont) at $43,690, and No. 2 Connecticut College (New London), $42,335. George Washington ranks No. 4 with tuition-only fees of $41,610, while Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) clocks in at fifth place with $41,335.

Regardless of whether your child stays on campus or commutes, those are some pretty hefty numbers. But as CampusGrotto notes, parents needn't necessarily have to come up with the whole amount. Many of the colleges on the 100 most-expensive schools lists offer scholarships that can substantially reduce the financial burden of attending college. The web site notes, for example, that Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which ranks No. 73 on the tuition-only list, is tuition-free for families earning less than $75,000 a year.

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